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Why the Seahawks must avoid trading for Deshaun Watson at any cost
The reasons are many and they are obvious, but Seahawks fans want to know if it's a good idea anyway
On Friday, rumors surfaced that the Seattle Seahawks would be frontrunners to trade for Deshaun Watson if he was cleared of any criminal charges by a grand jury. Then he was cleared of any criminal charges, giving Seahawks fans further opportunity to ponder Watson on Seattle’s roster in the near future and what that would mean for the team—and for their feelings about the team.
Bob Condotta’s summary of the Watson rumor mill for The Seattle Times aptly demonstrates how fans must be swirling between optimism and despair at this moment, depending on how keen they are on the Seahawks making said acquisition:
In fact, Daniel Jeremiah of the NFL Network said earlier in the day that “in talking to friends around the league, the expectation from every single one of them is that when it’s all said & done Deshaun Watson’s gonna be the quarterback (for the Seattle Seahawks).’’
Other reports, though, indicated it’s far from a slam dunk that the Seahawks will get Watson to replace Russell Wilson, who was traded to the Denver Broncos on Tuesday, assuming that they want to.
Ultimately, it seems as though there is a widespread expectation that Watson won’t be on the Texans within a week. If that departure includes a trade, the Seahawks are just one of many teams at this point that have been discussed. Watson would also have to waive his no-trade clause to complete any deal and it’s reasonable for you to wonder if Seattle is anywhere near the top spot on his list anyway.
But I’ve already gotten many questions about Watson and if you heard me on the podcast with Mookie Alexander this week then you already know what I think: It’s like a writing prompt where you try to come up with the worst possible thing that could happen to the Seattle Seahawks right now. That’s what trading valuable assets to the Texans for Deshaun Watson would be comparable to.
Because he’s Deshaun Watson
Perception is reality. And the public perception for the last year is that “Deshaun Watson is a bad guy.”
Set aside for a moment what Watson knows about Watson and think for a moment about what you know about Watson. Because that’s truly what matters the most in this situation. What the fans think of Watson, what Pete Carroll thinks of Watson, and what Seahawks players think of the team trading for Watson, because it’s our perceptions of Deshaun Watson that will ultimately frame how the media ultimately covers the team that trades for him and promotes him as the face of their franchise.
That’s a responsibility that the Seahawks have no business becoming entangled with right now, if ever.
Go back to 2015, when Pete, fresh off of his second Super Bowl appearance in two years, is still feeling himself as a bastion of reclamation projects so the Seahawks decide to take on the burden of a public backlash by drafting Frank Clark in the second round. Rob Staton of SeahawksDraftBlog was comparing Clark to Jadeveon Clowney and saying he could be a top-five pick if judged on football alone. But a 2014 domestic violence arrest put Clark squarely in the hairs of “unforgivable red flags” and Seattle knew that they had to do more for this prospect than simply prepare him for the NFL; Pete and John Schneider had to prepare themselves to have answers for why they chose Clark when there are plenty of prospects in the second round without an arrest record.
What Pete and John learned from that experience was that their vague explanations for drafting Clark—a “due diligence” investigation that did not include interviews with his accuser—and the power of “waiting it out” were enough for the Seahawks to not only weather the storm, but to actually see Clark become a good enough pass rusher that the entire conversation around him as “Frank Clark” would soon only center on football.
But the Seahawks can’t look back to the times in the past when they ignored alleged or convicted transgressions and use that as a model or excuse for acquiring Deshaun Watson on the backend of the quarterback being cleared of criminal charges.
The Seahawks are in no position—now, if ever—to get involved with any player who was even recently associated with the phrase “criminal charges.”
The Seattle football franchise hasn’t been this close to ‘defunct’ and ‘dysfunctional’ since the Jim Mora, Jr. season and the last thing that needs to happen within days of trading away the most respected quarterback in team history is adding the least-respected person currently playing quarterback in the entire NFL. That’s the last thing that the Seahawks need right now.
The Seahawks are practically one trade and potentially one head coach firing away from the face or identity of the franchise being someone like Jamal Adams, followed by DK Metcalf and then I don’t know, Damien Lewis or Michael Dickson or Jody Allen. If a star quarterback like Watson comes to Seattle, then suddenly the Seattle Seahawks do become “Deshaun Watson’s team” and that’s not what the Seattle Seahawks need.
This is no longer the kind of team that has any business of sitting in the position to say, “We’re adding Antonio Brown” or Josh Gordon or Frank Clark, and “there’s nothing you can say about it because we have a track record of supporting and redeeming certain individuals,” and that’s something that needs to be accepted right now—because acceptance is the first step towards rehabilitation.
The franchise can’t rehabilitate anybody else until they fix themselves. And Seattle’s got a lot of fixing left to do.
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Because the Seahawks can’t afford to lose draft capital
I don’t know about you, but the best Seahawks team that I ever saw was the 2013 version. And you know what the 2013 Seahawks had? A core of cost-controlled players that Seattle acquired via their draft picks:
Four first round picks: Earl Thomas, Russell Okung, James Carpenter, Bruce Irvin
Four second round picks: Bobby Wagner, Max Unger, Golden Tate, Christine Michael (not as helpful)
Three third round picks: Russell Wilson, Brandon Mebane, Jordan Hill
Day Three Picks: K.J. Wright, Kam Chancellor, Richard Sherman, Byron Maxwell, Malcolm Smith, etc.
Now, where exactly on the 2022 Seahawks roster can we expect these cost-controlled, drafted, developed in-house, quality starters are meant to suddenly appear from over the next two years… if not through the draft?
First rounders signed for 2022: L.J. Collier, Jordyn Brooks
Second rounders signed for 2022: DK Metcalf, Darrell Taylor, Marquise Blair, D’Wayne Eskridge
Third rounders signed for 2023: Tyler Lockett, Damien Lewis
Without even getting to the vast disparity in day three talented between then and now, look at the stark differences in first, second, and third round talent from 2013 to 2022. At best, the Seahawks can add Rashaad Penny to the list by signing him to a contract after 3.5 years of getting virtually no value out of that pick. The second round list has only produced one player of significant value so far. The third round list could even get cut in half if Seattle chooses to trade Lockett, and even if they don’t, he’s still no longer a “cost-controlled” player.
If the Seahawks touch their 2022 first and/or second round picks and/or their 2023 first and/or second round picks, in order to acquire one single (expensive, not cost-controlled) player who also brings with him a PR nightmare, that is a disaster so unmitigated that I had to check the dictionary to make sure I was using unmitigated correctly.
Do you still think the Seahawks can be saved this year? They can’t be. The roster isn’t pre-gutted or mid-gutted; it’s been gutted. The best they can do is scout well, draft well, coach and develop well, and have faith that they will be able to draft their own “Deshaun Watson” (minus the issues) one day.
Because the 2023 NFL Draft class is AWESOME
I will be writing about this in the near future, but any QB-less team that does anything to potentially block their ability to draft a quarterback in the first round of the 2023 draft better be SURE AS HELL about the player who they are fitting into that hole this year.
The 2022 quarterback class could be that type that we one day call “the worst of the decade” like the 2013 QB class.
The 2023 quarterback class could end up being the BEST of the 2020s.
Your 2013 NFL QB Class:
My initial angle for arguing to wait until 2023 has been predicated on the suggestion that Seattle should draft a quarterback this year like Malik Willis or Matt Corral. We’ve seen the Arizona Cardinals draft top-10 quarterbacks in back-to-back years, but this is not an example of “good business practices”; the Cardinals could have instead drafted Minkah Fitzpatrick, Vita Vea, Derwin James, or Jaire Alexander and then where would Arizona have been as an 11-6 team in 2021?
Despite Arizona’s relative luck to rebound from the Josh Rosen pick in 2018, any team that drafts a quarterback in 2022 will see their odds of connecting with a franchise-altering quarterback in the first round of the 2023 draft fall to zero. And for what? Because of wanting to satisfy an immediate craving for an exciting quarterback over the immense benefits that come with having patience until the team finds a quarterback that’s worth being excited about?
I know most people don’t need rules for how they should tweet, most people don’t tweet at all, but I do have rules and I firmly believe that a person shouldn’t say anything online unless it is absolutely bursting out of their bones. Have something to say instead of saying something because you think you have to. And social media, status updates, that’s a very trivial and meaningless thing on a micro level… Drafting your franchise quarterback—in NFL terms—has never been something that football teams can take lightly.
You know who takes franchise quarterbacks lightly? The Arizona Cardinals.
The exact same principle here can be applied to trading for Deshaun Watson or literally any quarterback in the NFL who will cost the Seahawks any draft pick earlier than the fifth round: If you’re going to draft a quarterback in the first round this year, or trade for Russell Wilson, or trade for Watson, it better be bursting out of your bones. It better because the team is so dramatically, insanely, over-the-top for a quarterback that the thought of going on without that quarterback is too painful to bear. Not simply because you have a “need”.
Reports on Friday included that “rival GMs would be stunned if (the Seahawks) don’t had a serious upgrade to Lock at some point in the offseason” and to that I say: PLEASE STUN ME AGAIN, BABY!
Several executives from teams who reached out to the Seahawks are convinced the Seahawks will package much of what they just landed for Wilson to make a strong bid for Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson if the outcome of the sexual assault and misconduct inquires he is facing leave him in okay standing with the NFL. Sure, Seattle could use one of these picks this year or next on a QB, but rival GMs would be stunned if they don't add a serious upgrade to Lock at some point this offseason.
I read a list of low-cost free agent starting quarterback options to Mookie Alexander on the podcast this week and let me tell you, I’m fine with more than a half-dozen of these journeyman: Mitchell Trubisky, Jacoby Brissett, Joe Flacco, Tyrod Taylor, Teddy Bridgewater, Marcus Mariota, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Andy Dalton, Blaine Gabbert, Jameis Winston, Trevor Siemian, Colt McCoy
Looks like a long-ass list of quarterbacks who’d make for fine Drew Lock competition this summer and who won’t cost the Seahawks a draft pick. Remember: Seahawks traded a fifth rounder for Gabe Jackson that turned into cornerback Nate Hobbs, literally a top-100 player at PFF during his rookie season.
Seattle doesn’t need to worry about people saying they’re “tanking.” All they need to worry about is re-signing the players they like for the next few years, signing free agents who fit that mold, drafting the best players, and then coaching them. If the Seahawks lose a lot of games after that happens due to a lack of experienced talent, so be it. The top of the 2023 NFL Draft includes Young and Stroud, two players who would be drafted 1-2 this year if they were eligible.
I ALSO think that Young and Stroud would have been drafted over Trevor Lawrence and Zach Wilson last year.
Anthony Richardson is a Florida quarterback who you can put in that Cam Newton type of category where he could dominate a season of college football, win the Heisman, and be the number one pick in short succession based merely off of the fact that he’s the craziest athlete in the game and he has the ball in his hands all the time.
My personal favorite is Grayson McCall and given that nobody agrees with me, the Seahawks might even be able to grab him in the second round.
Moments after acquiring additional first and second round picks in 2023, do not mess with destiny by drafting a quarterback—and especially not by trading those picks away for a quarterback.
Who is your favorite 2022 or 2023 quarterback prospect? TELL ME:
Because you’re just not good enough, Seahawks
If Seattle was a 7-10 team last year with Russell Wilson… they would have been a 3-14 team without him. If Seattle would have gone at best 10-7 with a healthy Wilson playing out of his mind, then they’re probably a 5-12 team without him. If Seattle was an 8-9 or 9-8 team with a little more luck and a healthy Wilson, then they could surely be a 2-15 and unlucky team in 2022 without him.
Deshaun Watson is not going to “save” the Seahawks. Watson had mind-boggling stats in his final season with the Texans, and Houston went 4-12.
The only difference with Seattle would be that it’s a 17-game season now.
Similar to why the Seahawks should not draft a quarterback this year, Seattle is in no position to support a player at that position right now. The Seahawks will almost certainly move on from Duane Brown now, leaving Stone Forsythe and Jake Curhan as the top-ranked tackles left on the roster; Deshaun Watson was sacked an NFL-high 62 times in 2018, followed by 44 times and 49 times.
Seattle also has considerable questions to answer at center, tight end, wide receiver three+, and running back. If not also guard.
It feels like a joke that anyone is considering “How can the Seahawks upgrade at QB??” in this moment. The number one reason that Russell Wilson isn’t in Seattle today is the state of the roster and the Seahawks’ inability to support a franchise quarterback.
This is a roster that can support a Fitzmagic quarterback, at best.
Do you disagree? Tell me! (Not leaving a comment? Still worth perusing the comments section for more answers to questions you may be wondering)
Because Deshaun Watson is at least a little overrated
Even though I felt Watson was super underrated going into the 2017 NFL Draft, I’ve actually since fallen into more of the “overrated” camp as so many others flocked to admire him over the last couple seasons of his career. This opinion might seem “convenient” in the moment, and I respect why you might have that point of view, but let me lay out why I wasn’t that much of a Watson fan even prior to last year’s allegations.
In some ways, I think playing on such a bad team in 2020 was beneficial to Watson’s “insane stats.” Houston may have had the worst defense in the league, and 26 of Watson’s 33 touchdowns that season came when the Texans were trailing—and Houston was almost always trailing.
Watson had 367 pass attempts when trailing, compared to 70 pass attempts with a tied score. We know that leads=softer pass coverages and Watson did the majority of his damage in the second half and fourth quarter.
They accused Matthew Stafford of padding his stats with the Lions and he won a Super Bowl with the Rams, right? Stafford also served 12 years with Detroit before asking to get a shot with a new franchise, even willing to accept it and return to the Lions if they had told him, “No.” Watson played three seasons with the Texans, signed a $156 million contract, and then demanded to be traded only four months later.
Of course Deshaun Watson is great at football. I don’t think he’s proven that he’s a great player to have on a football team.
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